The Food – a fact of life programme
Food – a fact of life (FFL) is a comprehensive, progressive education programme which communicates up-to-date, evidence-based, consistent and accurate messages around ‘food’ to all those involved in education. FFL is managed by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), in partnership with the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
- is UK curriculum compliant and supports key ‘food’ qualifications;
- is based on a progressive framework of knowledge and skills;
- provides editable resources, allowing teachers to modify them to better suit the needs of their pupils ;
- supports a range of learning styles and approaches;
- provides professional development for trainee and practicing teachers;
- has been developed by former teachers, as well as qualified nutrition and agriculture experts;
- has oversight from four Education Working Groups who review work and help set future development.
- To help individuals recognise that food is a basic requirement of life and should be enjoyed.
- To help individuals develop an understanding of the underlying scientific principles upon which current issues in nutrition are based.
- To inform about methods of food production and processing in domestic and commercial situations.
- To encourage an awareness of social, economic and cultural aspects of food choice.
- To enable individuals to demonstrate and apply appropriate knowledge of concepts and principles when planning and preparing meals and when making food choices.
The education programme is founded on a whole school approach. It provides advice and guidance on policy matters relating to children's dietary requirements and provision of food throughout the school day. It ensures that wherever aspects of food and nutrition need to be taught within the formal curriculum, teachers and pupils have the opportunity to use the most innovative, effective and up-to-date resources available. To ensure that the programme develops in line with teacher need, and curriculum and/or qualification changes, there are four Education Working Groups (EWGs) that meet annually to comment on the resources developed and training provided. There is one EWG in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Resources developed for FFL are based on the principles set-out in the Guidelines for producers and users of school education resources about food – a quality framework. The aim is for resources to be:
- consistent, balanced and accurate;
- reliable, evidence-based and from reputable sources.
In line with the principles stated in the Guidelines, FFL adheres to the following:
- Healthy eating and nutrition: based on The Eatwell Guide; in line with current government healthy eating guidelines; take account of recent overviews of scientific thinking, e.g. SACN;
- Food provenance: reflect current UK farming and food production processes; recognise different views; if global food production/processing is highlighted, state location; acknowledge UK quality assurance standards/marks; give range of views when defining and discussing sustainability;
- Food preparation: promote acquisition of food skills; encourage high food safety and hygiene standards; apply healthy eating knowledge; use a range of food commodities; reflect cultural and ethnic diversity, being mindful of different dietary needs; use current legislation and guidance in relation to food labelling;
- Food choice: acknowledge that there are a range of factors; include behavioural aspects; consider portion/serving size and pupil age;
- Healthy lifestyles: promote healthy lifestyles more generally; reflect UK guidelines on physical activity recommendations; show that being active every day should be the norm.
The aim is to ensure that children and young people use up-to-date, evidence-based and high-quality resources to support their learning about food. For further information about the Guidelines generally, as well as the specific details for each ‘topic’ area, click here.
The Food – a fact of life programme was originally launched in 1991. It was a partnership between the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) and government (the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) that lasted until 1997. Since this time, BNF has continued to develop the programme. In 2004, BNF worked with different levy boards around the UK to develop a website for primary schools. From 2005, BNF extended the website to cover nursery aged children, as well as pupils aged 11 to 16 years. From October 2018, FFL is supported by a partnership of the BNF and the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The partnership continues to provide evidence-based support around food to schools, as well as training to teachers.
To support excellence in food teaching and learning, the materials provided on the FFL website have been developed to support the curricula and qualifications in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition, the Core Competences for children and young people aged 5 to 16 years have been used as a guide to support progression from 3 to 16 years.
3 to 14 years
For each age phase, i.e. 3-5, 5-7, 7-11 and 11-14 years, a progressive learning framework has been constructed to support learning around the following key learning areas: healthy eating, cooking, where food comes from and food commodities. Learning progresses from one age phase to another, consolidating prior learning and extending to include new concepts, knowledge and skills. Progression can be mapped via age or learning areas.
The framework provides a journey to support a child’s food learning throughout their school career. For the teacher, it provides a series of activities and lessons, supported by classroom appropriate resources.
It is recognised that some pupils will require further support and others may need additional ‘stretch’. Therefore, the ages on the website act only as a guide; for example, resources in the 11-14 years area could be used in a primary school to challenge more able pupils or resources from the 7-11 years area used to support older pupils with special education needs. The choice and use of resources is at the discretion of the teacher who will use their professional judgement and knowledge of their pupils’ abilities.
Based on a review of key ‘food’ related specifications, such as GCSE, National 5 and Level 2 qualifications, and Technical Awards, a number of overlapping areas of knowledge and skills were identified. In this age phase, resources are provided for the teacher to use with their pupils at their own discretion based on their teaching requirements and specification. Resources include teacher notes, presentations, worksheets, videos and quizzes. These have been devised to build on from the 3 – 14 years age phases. In addition, to help save the teacher time, a number of specifications have been analysed and direct hyperlinks to key resources have been identified.
Recipes can be searched through a number of filters:
- Time (up to 30 mins, up to 45 mins, up to 60 mins, 90mins +);
- Complexity (low, low-medium, medium, medium-high, high);
- Age, i.e. 3-5, 5-7, 7-11, 11-14, 14-16;
- Cooking methods: Non-heat, Hob, Grill or Oven;
- Food commodity (such as vegetable, meat, cereals, potatoes);
- Food skills, e.g. grate, peel, stir.
Complexity: A set of criteria have been devised by FFL to provide an objective rating for the complexity of our recipes. The criteria is based on the number of ingredients, the number of actions, the complexity of processing an ingredient (such as it being a high risk food or a term that describes multiple actions), the complexity of these actions (often linked to accuracy), and the duration of preparation. The analysis of each recipe, using this criteria, results in a score which is then translated into a useful descriptor: low, low-medium., medium, medium-high and high.
Age: This has been provided to give guidance on the appropriateness of a recipe for different age groups. This is based on the experience of the FFL programme with working with children and young people. Of course, the teacher will need to make the final decision – as they better understand the knowledge, skills and experience of the pupils they teach.
Cooking methods: This has been added to allow teachers a quick way of finding recipes suitable for their circumstances or teaching objectives. For example, a primary school teacher may not have easy access to an oven so requires a selection of ‘non-cook’ recipes. A secondary school teacher may wish to focus on the safe use of the hob.
Food skills: This has been provided to allow teachers to quickly filter the recipes to find those that match the learning intent for a lesson.
- Lower salt, sugar and fat versions of ingredients/products should be used in recipes. Salt should not be available for seasoning and only placed out for pupils if it is required in the recipe, e.g. bread making.
- When planning Schemes of Work, or setting a series of lessons, they should cover a wide range of recipes, supporting healthy eating messages (as depicted on The Eatwell Guide).
- Servings of dishes should be appropriate for the age of the pupils.
- Where smoothies or fruit juices are made, the single serving per pupil must not be more than 150ml (this is the maximum amount of fruit juice/smoothie for a day).
- Dishes high in fat, salt and/or sugar should be kept to a minimum and only made occasionally. Treat foods are not needed in the diet and, if included, it is best to keep the portion size small and not have them too often.
- Where recipes make reference to a fat, such as scones or sauces, unsaturated spread, baking fat /baking block or butter are listed to provide choice.
British Nutrition Foundation
New Derwent House
69-73 Theobalds Road
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
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